PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry’s Tyler Smith led an offensive explosion on opening night as the Cardinals defeated rival Surry Central 48-13.
The Cards have been a predominantly run-based team under head coach David Diamont.
With a strong-armed QB and some capable receivers, Diamont showed he was willing to open up the offense and fling the ball around. The Cards racked up 41 points by halftime.
Smith had touchdown passes to Blake Marion and Kim Taylor, then ran for two TDs of his own for a 41-7 halftime lead.
On the opening kickoff, East’s Taylor started up the left side, cut back to the right and raced all the way to the end zone for a score.
Devon Goble made the first of six extra points on the night for the senior kicker. His only miss came on a low snap that caused him to stutter-step on his approach.
Down 7-0, Surry Central showed no signs of folding, marching the ball down the field with its running attack.
From four yards out, Eric Ramirez found the end zone. With the extra point, the Golden Eagles had tied the game 7-7 only four minutes into the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Central kicked away from Taylor, but Demidrick Hargrave took the return all the way to the Eagles’ 30-yard line.
One play later, Smith hit Marion for a short gain on the right side. The receiver broke a tackle and raced to the right corner for a 26-yard TD to make it 14-7 with 6:59 still left to play in the first quarter.
Central went three-and-out on the next drive. The punt snap went wide to the right. Jed Kidd caught the ball, but had to kick on the move and only got the ball to the 41-yard line.
Shawn Creed took a handoff from the 34-yard line to the 13. Then Smith found Taylor in the left corner for a 13-yard TD to make it 21-7 with 5:13 left in the first.
Central got a long pass up the left sideline from Chandler Johnson to Noah Wilmoth.
The Eagles advanced all the way to the 36-yard line before running out of gas. The punt snap went over Kidd’s head, and the punter had to chase it all the way back to his own 37-yard line to fall on it.
Smith made a 37-yard TD pass from there, but it was called back for illegal formation.
From the 42, Smith and Marion hooked up for a 34-yard catch to the 8-yard line. A short run got the ball to the 6 as the first quarter finally came to an end.
On the first play of the second quarter, Smith kept the ball and rolled out left. He outran one defender to the end zone for a 28-7 lead at 11:52.
On Central’s next drive, Johnson rolled out left, but was heavily pursued. He tried to throw back to his right to an open receiver, but the ball hung up in the air long enough for Ty Brooks to get under it and make an interception. East took over on the 27-yard line.
Smith didn’t waste any time.
Marion lined up in the slot and ran a skinny post. Smith hit him for a 15-yard gain, then Marion cut back sharply to dodge the safety and scored the 27-yard TD. That made it 35-7 at 10:31.
The Eagles couldn’t move the ball on the next drive, but Kidd got a good snap and boomed a huge punt over Marion’s head. The returner ran back and caught the ball on the bounce, then raced up the left sideline for a TD. However, it was called back because of two flags for blocks in the back.
Starting at the 41-yard line, Joey Ray raced up the middle 19 yards to the Central 40.
Tight end Charlie Freeman picked up a third down on a short catch. Then Ray made three straight runs to the 15 for a first down.
Smith found Marion at the 1-yard line. Then he went with a quarterback sneak to get the score for a 41-7 lead with 2:26 left in the half.
Central moved the ball well in the final two minutes, but a 29-yard field goal at the end of the half was wide left.
In the second half, Ramirez went down on the kickoff with what looked like a leg cramp. He tried to return a couple of plays later and went down a second time and didn’t return to the offense.
The Eagles fumbled the ball at their 28.
Ray rushed for 23 yards to the 5, then Creed scored from there for a 48-7 lead with 10:33 left in the third.
Central got another good punt from Kidd that went out at the 21 of East Surry. The Cards then fumbled at the 20 to give the Eagles excellent position.
On third and 1, Marion picked off a pass at the 10.
The offense couldn’t move the ball, and Smith punted away. After hitting the ball badly and only getting it to the 13, Smith limped to the sideline and was held out after that.
Martin Palacios ran the ball from the 15 to the 5, then Chase Boone made a 5-yard run to make it 48-13. The extra point was blocked by Staymon Johnson.
That would be the end of the scoring.
Coach David Diamont said, “I thought that we did some things offensively where we executed very well, and we surprised Central’s defense quite a bit. Tyler Smith throwing it, and Blake Marion and Kim Taylor catching was pretty special.”
Kim played as a freshman, but hasn’t played the past two years, noted the head coach.
“On the defensive side, I felt like we had some good spurts and some not so good spurts,” said Diamont.
“We came out of the game with no injuries. We played a lot of folks. A good start.”
Next week, the Cards face Starmount at home.
“Last year, they physically beat us,” said Diamont. “We have to prepare for them with a lot of intensity and emotion.”
Surry Central returns home to face East Wilkes. The other Cardinals smashed South Stokes 34-0 at home.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692 and on Twitter @SportsDudeJeff.